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September 26, 2012

Community benefit rich list

In the early days, the idea of a wind farm developer sharing profits with a local community seemed pretty far-fetched and fanciful.  Over time developers began to recognise that it was in their interests to have the community on their side and as the principle of making community benefit payments became established, so the amounts of cash increased. Although small beer compared what communities can earn if they develop their own wind farms , this money can still mount up.  A new register has been launched, listing who gets what.


Third Force News,  24th September 

RENEWABLE energy developers and communities are being urged to post details of their community benefit programmes on a new register that will map how Scotland is profiting from developments.

More than 100 communities in Scotland are thought to be benefitting from deals with the developers of Scotland’s 136 wind farms and around 30 hydro schemes. The agreements range from annual cash payments to community groups or charities to employment and training opportunities.

The register, which has been created by Community Energy Scotland, is a voluntary database that aims to develop a much clearer picture of the different types of benefit that communities are receiving.

At present, most arrangements are in the form of a single or annual cash payment, which may or may not be paid directly to the community concerned.

For example, since 2008, Scottish Power Renewables, which runs Scotland’s biggest wind farm at Whitelee (pictured), has donated £1,480,750 to communities in East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the launch of the register and said that it would be a useful tool to help communities in areas where new renewable energy schemes are being developed.

“Many communities are already reaping the benefits of green energy and the new register provides a level playing field to ensure more share in the advantages of Scotland’s vast natural resources,” he said.

“The Community Benefit Register allows local communities to enter negotiations with developers – from those putting up single turbines on farms and estates to those building the largest schemes – on an even footing.”

There are already 34 entries on the database from developers and communities.

Jennifer Ramsay of Community Energy Scotland said: “The register will detail the tangible benefits to communities from developments, and underline the positive changes that the funds have generated on a local level.

“The information is available to all, and anyone with an interest in community benefit schemes will see quickly and easily what funds are in place across Scotland.”

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